U.S. payrolls rise more than forecast; unemployment 8.3%

Aug. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Payrolls in the U.S. climbed more than forecast in July, boosted by a pickup in employment at automakers, even as the jobless rate unexpectedly rose to a five-month high.

The increase of 163,000 followed a revised 64,000 gain in June payrolls that was less than initially reported, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median estimate of 89 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a gain of 100,000. Unemployment rose to 8.3 percent.

Uneven hiring may hold back consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy, as a global slowdown and impending U.S. tax changes weigh on businesses. Job cuts at companies from Morgan Stanley to Cisco Systems Inc. mean unemployment may remain elevated, one reason the Federal Reserve this week said it is prepared to take new steps if needed to boost growth.

“It’s good to see hiring pick up a little bit,” said Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York. “Some of the details don’t make it an unequivocally good report. The labor market is expanding but at a slower pace. The Fed is still very much in play for the September meeting.”

Stock-index futures extended gains after the figures, with the contract on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rising 1.1 percent to 1,376.5 at 8:52 a.m. in New York.

Estimates in the Bloomberg survey ranged from increases of 50,000 to 165,000 after a previously reported 80,000 gain in June. Revisions to prior reports subtracted a total of 6,000 jobs to payrolls in the previous two months.

Private Payrolls

Private payrolls, which exclude government agencies, rose 172,000 after a revised gain of 73,000. They were projected to rise by 110,000, the survey showed.

The unemployment rate was forecast to hold at 8.2 percent, according to the survey median. Estimates in the Bloomberg survey ranged from 8.1 percent to 8.3 percent. The report showed more people left the labor force.

Factory payrolls increased by 25,000, more than twice the survey forecast of a 10,000 increase and boosted by a 12,800 pickup in employment at makers of motor vehicles and parts.

The figures may have reflected fewer shutdowns at automakers for annual retooling related to the new model year, indicating the jump will be reversed this month. Chrysler Group LLC and Ford Motor Co. are among companies that said they would idle fewer plants.

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